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Every console launch lineup needs a reliable game aimed at children and young families. Sackboy: A Big Adventure fills that hole nicely for the PS5, but it also has enough tricks up its sleeve to make it a definite recommendation for any platforming fan.
Custody of PlayStation icon Sackboy has changed hands from Media Molecule to Sumo Digital. Still, it would be hard to argue that any of the LittleBigPlanet charm has been lost as a result. It doesn’t offer the limitless, level-breaking freedom of the original trilogy. Still, this spin-off has plenty of satisfying orbs to pop and more costume options than is reasonable to count. Franchise veterans will feel right at home.
And no, it doesn’t have the tight movement tech of Crash Bandicoot 4 or the butter-melting charms of a game like Astro’s Playroom, but it’s well worth a look if you’re in the market for an innovative platformer that makes the most of the PS5’s exclusive features.
The DualSense augments even the most minor movements in A Big Adventure. Sackboy jumps just like Luigi to reach higher platforms, and you can feel each leg wiggle in the air through the controller. One of the main ways you retrieve orbs is by pulling a coiled wire out of a plugged hole — the resistance is impressive, if not a little gross.
It’s the closest thing to Astro’s Playroom when it comes to mind-boggling haptics, and it makes similar use of the controller’s speaker system to define every critical action. It’s well worth playing through one of the game’s levels with the sound off, just listening to the surprising manner in which the controller reacts to Sackboy’s movements.
Much like Tearaway and Yoshi’s Crafted World, Sackboy: A Big adventure hones in on the beauty of materials and paraphernalia close up, and these visuals are powered by the new 4K fidelity provided by the PlayStation 5.
Secret rooms are earmarked by a reflective faux-leather door that unzips and flops with careful realism, and old hiking boots and skateboards act as eye-catching level furniture. Every hub world gives the wonderful impression that it has been put together by a group of crafty, imaginative kids, so it’s easy to gawp at the granular detail of tarpaulin and sponge across the game’s five main worlds.
The excellent art direction extends to the game’s cute cutscenes, in which you can spot every uneven stitch and frayed thread on Sackboy’s meticulous model. These are led by a surprisingly stacked voice cast, with Dawn French, Richard E. Grant and Simon Greenall of I’m Alan Partridge fame breathing life into a charming but ultimately predictable plot. Regardless, the stakes and gags will go down well with a younger generation of players.
As you progress, you’ll blast off from canopies to kingdoms, with each new zone keeping to a curated aesthetic and offering its own unique costume parts. Especially if you’re playing in co-op, half of the fun is designing outfits for your squad of up to four players before you take on the next level.
“In all cases, you learn by doing and making mistakes, rather than being forced through a tired tutorial, which shows a confidence in design that flows through this lovely launch title.”
And whether that’s collecting bugs for a cockney monkey or grappling through an underwater cityscape, the missions offer plenty of variety over the game’s roughly 10-hour runtime. Whether you’ll remember much of it once you’ve wrapped it up is another story.
The moreish gameplay is helped by the hands-off introduction of new tools and puzzle solutions throughout. You’ll eventually encounter gooey patches that let Sackboy’s sticky pads clamber up gravity-defying carpet walls or equipment such as the Clawstring, a creative extension of the protagonist’s ability to grab onto platforms in the early game.
In all cases, you learn by doing and making mistakes, rather than being forced through a tired tutorial, which shows a confidence in design that flows through this lovely launch title. Suppose you’re after more of a challenge. In that case, there are plenty of remixed levels and ‘Knitted Knight’ time trials that make use of the PS5’s unobtrusive online leaderboard system to create an addicting framework for those with speedrunning ambitions.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is then pulled together by a stellar score, which includes clever use of licensed music, providing a catchy beat to many of the game’s most exciting missions.
Assets and enemies move in step with the rhythm of songs like Kool & The Gang’s Jungle Boogie and Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough. It’s far less frantic than the musical levels of Rayman Legends it appears to be riffing off, providing a more comfortable medium to enjoy the great music at your own pace.
Unfortunately, we did encounter a few cutscene and level-end glitches which forced us to restart and lose some progress, but the joyous bite-size nature of the game meant this was never too much of an issue. Sackboy: A Big Adventure is as easy to pick up and put down as it is to drop in and out of the game in co-op, making it a fantastic option for family fun this holiday season on the PS5.
Sackboy doesn’t have the tight movement tech of Crash Bandicoot 4 or the butter-melting charms of a game like Astro’s Playroom, but it’s well worth a look if you’re in the market for an innovative platformer that makes the most of the PS5’s exclusive features.
- Satisfying gameplay well-augmented by the DualSense
- Meticulous material work creates a gorgeous art style
- Inventive use of licensed music to accent player platforming
- Slightly forgettable in the shadow of other PlayStation platformers